On our second day in Iceland I was woken at 5.30am by what sounded like a tornado outside. The high winds were driving the rain really hard into the side of the house. I love the sound of rain but this was so loud that I never got back to sleep.
The plan was to go to the Blue Lagoon and we couldn’t really change our plans regardless of the weather. So we wrapped ourselves up and headed out to the car. I stood outside locking the front door thinking this isn’t so bad after all. I took one step off the semi-covered patio and the wind almost blew me back to New York. Jen could barely get the car door open.
We had to drive through some treacherous snowy conditions. It was so bad that I pulled over and switched with Jen. We figured it was better for the person who had grown up with lake effect snow driving rather than the Australian.
We fiiiinally made it to the Blue Lagoon where we very dubiously entered the place. Every man and his dog had said the same thing to me before going to Iceland: YOU MUST GO TO THE BLUE LAGOON.
I guess none of those people went during bad weather.
So here’s what I would say: yep, you should probably go to the Blue Lagoon because otherwise it’s like going to Orlando and not going to Disneyworld but DO NOT GO if the wind is pushing tiny pellets of ice so hard into your face that it actually hurts and you can’t see properly, the water is only lukewarm, you have a genuine fear that your ears will get frostbite, and the normally calm water has basically turned into 5 foot swells.
It was also way smaller than I expected.
But wait, there’s more. We had both scheduled massages. Outdoor massages. We fully expected it to be awful given the weather conditions but it wasn’t that bad. Was it good? Um, I wouldn’t go that far. It certainly improved after I asked for a towel to protect my face from the constant barrage of ice pellets.
The whole thing was so bad that it was actually hilarious and I found myself laughing constantly.
Would I go again to the Blue Lagoon? Nope.
Icelandic Dream House :: At Night
Last night Jen went out to take photos at night. This place is pretty remote and I am a big scaredy cat so the whole time she was gone I was at least 70% certain that she would be eaten by a wild animal and that I would be murdered by an axe-wielding Icelandic person.
We both survived.
And here are some photos from Jen’s midnight stroll.
You always read about Gulfoss which is the big waterfall along the Golden Circle route. It was the first thing we saw yesterday (and I will hopefully blog about it at some point) but there is actually a waterfall around the corner from our Icelandic Dream House that is (in my opinion) way prettier. It’s called Seljalandsfoss. I’ll let you figure out how to pronounce that guy.
There is a path that takes you around the back of the waterfall. We’ve side seen some photos on a blog taken from behind the waterfall that look amazing. At the time we didn’t realize how pretty it would be but still wanted the adventure of going back there. However, once we spotted and chatted with a couple of other tourists who were literally drenched we thought better of it and just admired it from every other angle instead.
We just can’t get enough of the gorgeous Icelandic horses. We pulled over to the side of the road as often as we could to get up close and personal.
They are quite short and stocky horses. They look like a hardy breed. I imagine they need to be hardy in order to survive on the Icelandic terrain and handle the weather conditions.
And they are so friendly. I can only assume other tourist bring carrots because they would come straight over to the fence and nuzzle up against our hands.
I’ll tell you what I’m tired of hearing? That somehow or other we’re too emotional when we talk. You know, when we raise an issue, we’re too emotional. Well, I am emotional… It brings tears to my eyes to know how women every, single day are working so hard and are getting paid less. It makes me emotional to hear that. Then, when I hear all of these phony reasons — some are mean and some are meaningless — I do get emotional. I get angry, I get outraged, I get volcanic.
Paris & Iceland :: Day 4
I woke up to find what looked like a blood bath had occurred in our hotel room. Upon closer inspection it would appear that we had some difficulty keeping the red wine inside our wine glasses. I’m so sorry Hotel cleaning people!
It was a long travel day. There were broken down trains, long lines at the airport, and I really really really missed John and the girls. I was tired and grumpy and hungover.
Metro -> RER Train -> Plane -> Rental Car
And then we were in Iceland.
It’s magical. Unlike anywhere else I have been.
We saw rainbow after rainbow after rainbow. We saw double rainbows. We saw perfect arc rainbows. It was amazing.
This rainbow was so huge and in such a perfect arc that I couldn’t fit it all in one photo. I took it from the bottom of our driveway just as we arrived.
And the Icelandic Dream House that we are staying in is even more amazing than I thought it would be.
It’s modern with tons of natural light. The views from each window are incredible.
This was the view I woke up to the next morning.
Paris :: Day 3
On Tuesday morning there were no croissants left at our bakery. Disaster! But don’t worry we managed by having two pain au chocolats instead. (And when I say two, I do mean two each.)
On Tuesday morning we hopped on the RER and went out to Versaille and stood in the looooooongest line to get into the palace. It was fascinating to see how the building started as quite a small structure and then each King added a little bit more until it became the behemoth it is today.
We ate simple ham and cheese sandwiches on the train back into the city.
Starbucks is everywhere btw. I was really surprised. The French don’t drink coffee on the go like Americans. They like to sit in cafés preferably at an outdoor table facing the street to have their coffee. So I was really surprised but so glad to have the ability to grab a cup of tea on the go. I didn’t mind that it clearly marked me out as a tourist!
Once we got back into the city we headed back to the hotel for a rest. This touristing business is exhausting. My legs were aching and it wasn’t even me who ran the marathon on Sunday.
Then it was back on the streets to hit up a few chocolatiers, grab a Nutella crepe, and do some flaner’ing around the latin quarter near Ernest Hemingway’s apartment.
We walked down Rue Mouffetard where I hit the shopping jackpot. I’ve been on the hunt for months for the perfect pair of light grey jeans and the perfect pair of harem-esque pants. Well I found both in a store called KARL MARC JOHN. And for totally reasonably prices. Hurray! I also picked up a few more gifts for Charlotte and Alex who I miss more than words can describe.
We then grabbed an outdoor table facing the street and ate dinner watching the world go by in Place de la Contrescarpe. We split a bottle of rose but weren’t quite ready to leave our cosy spot once we had finished both our meals and the wine. So we ordered another glass each. I can’t decide whether that was the greatest idea ever because we really did so enjoy sitting there but that extra glass was the tipping point that led us to decide MORE WINE ALL THE WINE was necessary and we both woke up with godawful hangovers the next day.
As we headed back to the Metro I got another crepe. Just because. I am almost convinced that we burned off more calories that we ate based on how exhausted I am and how sore my body is.
Paris :: Day 2
We got two croissants from the bakery across the street as we headed out for the day. So good!
We took a quick trip to Zara to try and buy some jeans. Somehow I had neglected to pack a second pair of jeans in my suitcase. I failed at buying jeans but I wanted to buy practically everything else in Zara. (I did not). It’s not the first time I’ve noticed how much more stylish and better quality the Zara clothes are in France compared to the US.
We then made our way to Sacre Coeur and ambled around the little square that is tucked off to the side and jammed with artists selling their work (Place du Tertre). Five years ago John and I bought the Mona Lisa that hangs above our living room mantel piece. Jen bought an amazing piece of artwork and I bought two small pieces that I’m hoping to hang in the girls bedrooms.
We strolled down Rue Lepic with the plan of stopping in at the adorable children’s store that John and I stumbled across last time but sadly it’s been replaced by yet another cafe.
We stopped for lunch in Montmartre and then headed over to a really cool store called Merci that was basically a hipster paradise.
We also stopped by the bridge where everyone attaches locks and added our own.
Then we headed back to the hotel for a rest before going to dinner. On the way we stopped and took a million photos in front of the Eiffel Tower.
And my favorite outtake - trying to point at the Tower and failing miserably.
Paris: Day 1
After Charlotte’s party I had exactly 2 hours to clean up and pack a suitcase before I left for the airport. Because as my mother likes to say, I tend to burn the candle at both ends. I love being busy but this week was ridiculous and horribly stressful. John dropped me off at JFK 4 hours before my flight because he had to get to NYC for his hockey grand final and I was totally OK with having 4 hours to decompress at JFK before my flight. As a Mum of 2 small children it’s so rare to have a few hours to literally do nothing.
I flew to Paris on the red eye with a quick layover in Reykjavik. By the time I arrived at the hotel in Paris Jen had finished the marathon (which was marathon # 7 - insert hand clapping emoji here). After jumping up and down with excitement and exchanging conversation how was the marathon? how was the flight? are you exhausted? we headed straight out and had dinner at a random restaurant in St Germain and then did a cruise along the Seine. The one takeaway I have from this cruise, and from Paris in general, is that the light is gorgeous. It’s completely different from the light in New York /CT and the light I grew up with in Sydney. And it totally adds to the romanticism associated with Paris.
I was exhausted after barely sleeping on my red eye flight but made it all the way to 10pm. I fell into bed after a perfect start to my Parisian vacation.